Two Period Pieces
A Couple of Anglican-Related Things

Oh, by the way

There are probably going to be a number of these brief reviews of mostly old movies over the next month or so. We are about to cancel our "cable" TV service (actually over the phone lines--AT&T's TV+Internet service).  It's crazy for us to keep it, since we almost never watch anything but PBS, TCM, and in the fall college football. I'm a little hazy now about why we did it in the first place--had something to do with consolidating phones, Internet, and TV. But it includes a DVR, and in the several years we've had it I've recorded an awful lot of stuff. Right now I think there are around 120 (!) programs on the DVR, and at least two-thirds of them are old movies recorded from TCM. So, since it will be going away with the subscription, we're trying to watch some of the ones that look most interesting. I'll miss TCM, but a lot of what they show can be found on Netflix, and we can get the PBS shows either broadcast or on the net.

The other third is music programs like Austin City Limits and a few things from EWTN. 


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Sounds like an OK DVR. My weird, puny one from Time-Warner, with its 160GB hard drive, has less than half that capacity.

By my calculations, you've got at least 80 movies to deal with, some of which are not worth your time. If you need any recommendations/dis-recommendations, I'm sure you'll get plenty if you post some of the movies on your DVR list (maybe too many).

Previously, you mentioned that you recorded "Paris, Texas." Although I have mixed feelings about this film, I'd definitely recommend it. It's slow-paced and too long, but you seem to have a good reservoir of patience, judging from your comments about Malick's "The Thin Red Line" and "Tree of Life." I recall little about the former other than that it tested my patience by being too obscure and/or pompous and overlong. I recently recorded the latter and only got through 35 minutes of this disjointed, impressionistic swirl before I had to stop it. I'll get back to it and hopefully the film will start to coalesce into something that makes sense to me. I thought Malick's "Badlands" was OK and "Days of Heaven" is a favorite of mine; but IMHO Malick's interesting tendencies turn to flabby liabilities when they're not kept on a short leash.

I can't remember what the actual capacity of this one is, but obviously it's way more than adequate. At one time it was almost full. Now I've gotten it down to somewhere between 80 and 85 per cent full.

I was mistaken about Paris, Texas. I actually looked for it a few days after that discussion, and realized I was for some reason confusing it with Blood Simple (which I haven't watched). No doubt I could get it from Netflix, though.

I would guess that no one would have heard of at least a third of the movies I've recorded--they're almost all pre-1960 and not very well-known. Maybe a dozen are classics that I definitely want to watch, or watch again after having seen them many years ago, like Rules of the Game.

I don't think you're anywhere near alone in your reaction to Malick's recent movies. Haven't seen Badlands or Days of Heaven.

Very interesting. I've heard similar comments from others too. I think Terrence Malick's admirers must fall into two camps: those who primarily appreciate his first two films (Badlands and Days of Heaven) and those who mainly admire his later films, starting with The Thin Red Line. To me the two periods seem to be almost the work of two different filmmakers. I myself am firmly in the latter camp, and I am in particular thrall to The Tree of Life.

Cross-posted with Mac.

I'm pretty sure Badlands has been in my Netflix queue for a long time. Eventually I'll get to it.

I was really knocked out by Tree of Life, but haven't seen it again. I've wondered how it would hold up.

Mac, I was certainly going to get back to Tree of Life, but will have to keep an open mind and concentrate on it given your high recommendation.

Craig, I'm not happy to be in the first camp of Malick admirers you describe ("those who primarily appreciate his first two films"), because IMHO Days of Heaven is hauntingly beautiful, and my high hopes were disappointed when Malick finally resumed work.

Malick's very distinctive style--at least in Days of Heaven--may have been influenced by 1973's The Spirit of the Beehive, an excellent Spanish film marked by a moody, deliberate pace and stunning photography of Spain's lonesome countryside.

I don't know what else is involved in Malick's style, but evidently I know it when I see it. I recently got drawn into watching Undertow because of a striking resemblance, in parts, to Malick's work. And just now I see in the Wikipedia article that Malick was one of the producers of the film.

I liked 'Undertow,' but didn't realize that Malick was involved. I don't remember its being particularly in his style, but it's been awhile since I watched it. Green's follow-up, 'Snow Angels,' is very good also, with excellent performances from Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale, but it's quite the downer.

Two other films which have a notable Malick feel are 'The Assassination of Jesse James' and the recent 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints,' both of which are very good.

I've not seen 'Badlands' but I like 'Days of Heaven.' I've seen both 'Tree of Life' and 'To the Wonder' three times, and have to say that they unfold more meaning with each viewing. In that way they are more like visual narrative poems than traditional films. Malick shows rather than tells a lot of the time.

The best brief discussion of TOL I've run across is here, in this 9 minute video. This fellow gets it exactly right, imo.

I've never heard of 'Undertow'; I'll put it on my list. I'm also planning to see 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints', Rob G, when it makes it to DVD; I've heard the Malick comparisons from others too.

No time to watch that 'Tree of Life' commentary now, but I'll try to do so later.

Me too.

One reason I haven't seen it again is that I suspect it just wouldn't work on my old average-sized tube TV. It would be in that wide format which ends up being fairly small. Maybe if I sat three feet away...

While I have the chance, I wanted to say that one of the reasons I like Malick is that he is the only director that doesn't seem to fear that slow pace that you more often than not see in foreign films. He leaves room for grace. That is probably why those are the films that Gary doesn't like--because he isn't looking for that grace--and we do.


Maybe, though there are some people who just think Malick's later style is overly grandiose. Personally I think it works but I can understand someone thinking it doesn't.

I haven't seen either the Jesse James movie or Ain't Them Bodies.

I wasn't criticizing Gary, btw, but I was afraid it might come across that way. I was just saying that the different point of view could make that difference.


It did sound a bit that way, but I knew what you meant. I'm not sure I'd say that my reaction or patience with movies like this has to do with my looking for the grace. I'd have said it was just an aesthetic thing. Interesting thought, though--when I say "I'm not sure" I really mean I'm not sure, not "I don't think."

Well, I was more concerned that Gary knew what I meant. ;-)

I wouldn't say that I am looking for grace so much as I find it slipping in during those still moments in the movies.


Ah, it's lucky I happened to notice this thread continuing and decided to take a look.

Janet, I did not for a moment think there was any offence intended in your comment, and I didn't take any; though I appreciate your gracious concern for my feelings. That sort of thing is not too common on the internet.

Also, I agree with your observation that Malick "doesn't seem to fear [a] slow pace..." At his best, the lavish, unhurried photography, the euphonious soundtrack--especially the haunting theme from Days of Heaven--and story elements all combine to reveal sparkling moments of beauty--and perhaps something transcendent.

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